It’s hard to keep political chatter out of the workplace, especially in an election year, but the discourse and sharing of political views can lead to problems if it’s not reined in. For example, a candidate claimed that she was denied a faculty position by the dean at a publicly funded law school because of her previous affiliations with conservative organizations. The candidate sued, claiming that she was warned by several associate deans that her political views might play a role in her hiring. The lawsuit is moving forward but one has to wonder if the entire debacle could have been avoided, had the faculty and dean kept their political views to themselves. In case you’re wondering, private sector employers can refuse to hire candidates because of their political views, unless they’re located in California, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Oregon, the District of Columbia or Puerto Rico, which protect free speech, according to The Employment Law Group. And then there’s this story from CNN, about an employee who learned the hard way that careers and politics don’t mix, when he permanently damaged his relationship during a heated discussion with his boss. While most companies don’t have a policy forbidding political discussions, it can lead to a slew of other issues like charges of discrimination or fostering a hostile work environment. So, this is the perfect time to remind your management team to steer clear of politics and let workers know that their political views will not impact their careers, but it might be better for everyone if they discuss politics at home.
Leslie Stevens-Huffman is a business and careers writer based in Southern California. She has more than 20 years’ experience in the staffing industry and has been writing blog posts, sample resumes and providing sage career advice to the IT professionals in our Dice Community since 2006. Leslie has a bachelor’s degree in English and Journalism from the University of Southern California.
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